My First Interfaith Event

So I attended my first interfaith event today at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


The first lady that I spoke to said that she wasn’t any one religion.  


When I asked more about this, she said:

The core to all religions is Rachamim (mercy, compassion) and Ahavah (love).


Pictured above are the table seating cards that directed people to sit next to people of other religions:  Jewish, Muslim, Other. 


The event was led by the One America Movement, and the Director, Andrew Hanauer spoke very well about bridging what divides us. 


Here are some of the take-a-ways:


– We need to address the divisiveness, polarization, and conflict. 

– Remember that we are talking with other human beings and not with labels.


– Polarization is not just issues, but devolves into identity–“I hate your stupid face!”


– But we are all human beings (and children of G-d). 

– Republicans and Democrats each say that the other is 20% less human than they are. 


– We all have our own “facts”:  My facts vs. Your Facts. 


– We attribute good that happens to us as being because of “us,” but bad that happens to us because of “them.”


– Similarly, we believe that we act out of love, but they act out of hate–and:

– We interpret threats to our viewpoints (political and otherwise), as threats to our groups and to ourselves. 

– Try to remove binary thinking (right and wrong, left and right, etc.), critique your own point of view, and share doubts

– Reconciliation:  If we can cross the divide, have open dialogue, and positive interactions with each others, and develop cross-cutting identities then we will make it easier to counter divisive narratives, solve problems, and reduce violence. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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Carlos Ghosn – Success and Failure

My thoughts on Carlos Ghosn–the head of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault.


What can we learn from his rise to power and his fall from grace?


Basically…be a real leader and not a schmuck!


Be modest.  Be humble.  Give to others.  Do Good!  😉

Appreciate The Good

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Seeing the Good in Life.”

After synagogue services today, we sat at the Kiddish with a lovely couple, and the lady took the opportunity to go around the table and ask each person: “What good thing happened to you this week?” I really appreciated the idea of focusing on the good and the miracles we live through every day rather than the bad things. It was interesting though that people seemed to have trouble saying something really positive from their week. In truth, they seemed more enveloped in the problems of the times rather than the opportunities that each day brings.

But truly, there are so many good things that we can appreciate each and every day, and that inspires faith and hope for many more good things to come. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

At The Border: Immigration Or War

So it’s interesting how this whole immigration crisis is playing out in real life and simultaneously on TV. 


In real life, we have a caravan of thousands of people marching from Central America (Honduras and Guatemala) to the U.S. border seeking asylum, mostly for economic reasons. 


On TV, we have the Last Ship Season 5, where South and Central America are at war with the U.S., “no longer willing to sit at the children’s table of international politics,” and they are coming to the U.S. to fight.


In the U.S. today, there are over 40 million people that were born in another country.  Of these, there are over 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. (55% from Mexico), and we know that we need immigration reform.  


In the truest sense, we are almost all of us immigrants to this country, with ourselves or our families coming over at one time or another, and we are grateful for the generosity and open doors that allowed us to come here and make a good life.


Of course, we want to pay it forward and give others the same asylum and opportunity that we had and which they as human beings deserve. 


Yet, the country continues to debate the mix of compassion and giving to the oppressed and needy versus the merit principles for bringing in needed skills, talents, and investment, and how many is the “right” number to allow in at any one time.


In real life, we are beefing up border agents, building a wall, and calling in the military to halt the illegal flow of immigrants, so that we can channel immigrates through a process and vetting that leads to legal and safe immigration to this country


On TV, we are fighting in the air, on land, and at sea an alliance of countries from the south and central that want to take over the U.S., and we are also holding our own and holding them back.


In both cases, we need to have and maintain borders to be a sovereign country, to protect our country, and to ensure that caravans of illegal immigrants or foreign troops are not crossing the border and doing harm. 


It’s high time for true immigration reform that is compassionate yet principled, but overrunning the border isn’t an option that is practical or fair.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Some Reflections From The Procedure

So I had a little procedure this week. 


I hate going to the hospital–who doesn’t?


But I figured better to take care of something before it gets worse. 


I think of it like taking the car into the mechanic for a tuneup every once in a while. 


This analogy stuck with me years ago, when the orthopedist told me I needed to get a hip replacement and started to describe it as having a flat tire that needed to be repaired. 


Leading up the the procedure, someone sent me this funny cartoon:

This really hit a nerve too because even the best medicine these days reminds me of the truly horrible medicine not so long ago.  


Ah, have some liquor, bite on this piece of wood, and now we’ll saw your leg off!


I remember my father never even liked to go to the doctor, and he had total faith that G-d was his doctor–I think he actually managed to avoid the doctor for literally something like 30-years.


He also used to joke that many doctors were butchers, and he didn’t want to get caught under their knife. 


So that’s certainly some apprehension going in to this. 


The other thing that was interesting-sad that I saw this week when I went for an MRI was someone taking a homeless person into the radiology center for a scan. 


But when the lady asked for insurance the person didn’t have any, so the lady asks for “proof of homelessness.”


I was flabbergasted at this as the guy was obviously homeless and literally was wearing tattered clothes.


They wouldn’t do the scan until the person escorting him would come back with this proof.  


I felt so bad for him and thought to myself is this what the healthcare system and care for the poverty-striken in this country has come to? 


While I am so truly grateful for the miraculous care that I received this week, I am equally saddened at the care that others don’t get that need it, and pray that we as a “caring society” will do better. 


Anyway, I want to express my gratitude to the doctor, the hospital, my wonderful family who stood by me, and most of all to G-d for seeing me through the procedure this week and for watching over me always. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Window and The Mirror

Thought this was a wonderful story on our perspectives in life. 


And how money can corrupt our vision of what is truly important. 


This is the story:


A rich man became ill. 


He looked out the window and saw his old friend who was a poor man. 


The rich, sick man invited the poor man, his friend into his house.


After talking awhile, the rich man asked the poor man to tell him what he sees. 


The poor man told the rich man to go over to the window and asked:

What do you see?


The rich man said:

I see men, women and children in the street. 


Then the poor man took the rich man over the mirror and asked him:

Now what do you see?


The rich man taken aback for a moment, said:

I see myself.


The poor man says:

Ah, that is the difference. Both the window and the mirror are both made out of glass. But when you look into them, you see different things. The window is just plain glass.  But the mirror is glass covered in silver. When we look through just the glass, we see others!  But when we look through the glass tainted with a coating of silver (i.e. money), we only see ourselves.


Wow! Think about it a moment. Shabbat Shalom!  😉


(Story adapted from Bishvil Ha-Ivrit)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not Really Yours

You can’t live without money, but you can’t just live for money. 


Didn’t someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.”


Of course, it’s not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 


On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:

One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: “All the while, I thought I was working for my boss… it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!”

We can have all the money in the world, but it’s never really ours. 


It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 


He decides what we have or don’t have (any longer). 


We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 


We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)